France has asked Israel not to bar its elected officials from entering Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza in the wake of Israel’s refusal Monday to permit a Paris suburban mayor to pass from Jordan into the Jewish state because of his pro-Palestinian views.
The request came from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs which said Patrice Leclerc’s intended visit was aimed at helping international projects in the Palestinian territories, the Haaretz newspaper reported Tuesday. The ministry expressed “regret” over the Israeli decision.
Leclerc, who serves as the French Communist Party mayor of the Gennevilliers city council on the outskirts of Paris, was turned away as he tried to cross the Allenby Bridge border crossing from Jordan to Israel.
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri refused entry to Israel for Leclerc and his wife, citing his support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel and recognition of Palestinian statehood, as well as for honoring Marwan Barghouti — a Palestinian terrorist and member of the PLO who is serving multiple life sentences in Israel for the murder of Israeli victims in attacks he helped plan.
After his entry was refused, Leclerc posted on Facebook that, “This situation marks a hardening of the state of Israel’s position regarding those who act for the right of the Palestinians to have a free and independent state.”
Leclerc had also been scheduled to visit Israel in November 2017 as part of a 20-member French delegation to Israel and the West Bank, but he withdrew after being denied entry on that occasion also.
Leclerc’s office recognized the state of Palestine on January 21, but nullified the policy on February 14, under pressure from local government.
The recognition move was symbolic and has no bearing on French foreign policy.
Last week, Deri announced that he would bar Dublin’s first lord mayor, Mícheál Mac Donncha, from entering Israel. Mac Donncha, a member of the leftists Sinn Féin party, was planning to attend a conference on the status of Jerusalem in Ramallah, at the invitation of the Palestinian Authority.